Good morning, Bloggerland!
As you all know, I'm gearing up for promotion for Tempest in the Tea Leaves which comes out in two and a half months! I think when it comes to promotion, you have to decide what you're most comfortable doing and what is cost effective. For part of my promotion, I decided to do a blog tour. There are some sites that set one up for you for a fee, but I decided to do it myself.
Setting up a blog tour can sound intimidating, but it's really easier than you think. The key is to start early. Bloggers are busy and fill their blog dates quickly. It's also time consuming to set up a blog tour and you don't want to leave yourself strapped while trying to meet a deadline.
To be most effective a blog tour should happen the month your book is out. Maybe start a couple days before the book releases and then fill the entire month. You don't have to do weekends, but Monday through Friday for sure. These bloggers live all over the place and we all know that first month is key for your numbers, so you really want to be everywhere to get buzz going. I think the Internet is the fastest way to spread the word to a lot of people.
* First, you need to research and find a bunch of bloggers who do interviews, guest posts, and reviews. One time saving tip is to go to the authors who write in your genre and see if they've done a blog tour. If they have, they often have links to all the posts on their website. Those are the blog sites you want. Ones with a lot of followers who like your genre. You can also google some, but there are so many it's hard to know which ones are good. Also strive to use reviewing blog sites who are fans and readers, not necessarily authors. This is what they "do" and they all know each other. You can even find more reviewers by checking out their site and seeing what blogs they follow. And make sure you read their review policy so you know what they cover, how to contact them, etc. Once you have enough of them (I contacted around 40 just to get 20something to respond) then you're ready.
* Ideally bloggers will want an ARC or a galley (some will take an e-version) when you get them around 3 months before the book comes out, so the key time to contact them would be 4 months out. If you don't get ARC's, then you'll have to wait until you get your author copies about 1 month out. There are several exceptions who will agree to go first and leave the later dates for those who need more time. Also, many will agree to do a guest post or interview with you first, and then post the review when they are ready. The whole point is to keep your name out there the whole month in any way, not just reviews. Make sure to get their mailing address so you'll know where to send the book when you get it.
* Write a standard email you can use for each of them, but personalize the first sentence or two. Include that you are writing to them because you are in the process of setting up a blog tour and their blog caught your eye. That you would love to have them review your book, and do an interview or guest post as well. Also let them know if you will be offering a book giveaway at the end of the tour to one lucky commenter with a US address (if you don't want to mail something to another country). Then include the title of your book, the publisher, the ISBN, the release date, a book blurb, and quotes praising the book. Finally, let them know you look forward to hearing from them.
* When you send the emails, copy and paste your info and send them one at a time. It's tacky and impersonal to mass email your request. It's essentially what you're doing, but you don't have to blatantly spell it out for them.
* Be prepared when email responses start rolling in. Have your calendar ready and mark the dates if someone agrees to host an interview or let you guest post, etc. That way you also know what dates you still have available if others ask what do you have left? If you have contacted your bloggers early enough, chances are they are pretty flexible because they haven't locked that whole month in yet. So if they choose one date and you already have it booked, you can ask them if they'd mind doing it on one of these dates instead (give them a couple choices not just one), but reassure them if they can't, no worries. That you'll make the other date work. The whole point is to be everywhere, even if it means you have more than one thing on the same day.
* Remember, you will be writing your interviews and guest posts ahead of time, so really, all you have to do on each day is advertise where you'll be on Facebook, twitter, loops, etc. and then just check in a couple times to comment. You don't have to be on all day. And I follow the comments via email so if someone chimes in, my email will let me know.
* Another big tip is make sure your guest posts are different. If you've done this correctly, and you really are everywhere, people are going to get sick of reading the same thing from you. So start thinking early and write up a couple different posts at your leisure. Everything from craft tips to inspirational stories, top ten lists, interviewing your characters, posts from your characters, character's library list or even music playlists, etc. There's all kinds of things you can do. Be creative and have fun. You want your personality to show through.
* Finally, remember to mention your website, social media sites, and newsletter if you have one. This is a great way to collect followers. And keep your blogger list handy for when the next book comes out. You've already done all the hard work.
Whatever you do, have fun. This is an exciting time. Enjoy it. I hope some of these tips help when it comes to setting up your own blog tour.